Marriott hack blamed on China

That massive data breach that hit hotel group Marriott? Now there are clues the hackers behind it were working for a Chinese government intelligence gathering operation. Read the rest

Huawei board member arrested in Canada for Iran sanctions violation

For the past couple of years, the United States has been investigating allegations that Huawei shipped American-made products to Iran. The why of the matter is that having Iran get their mitts on US goods is a violation of the trade sanctions that the United States government imposed on the middle eastern nation.

The Justice Department Investigation into Huawei was kept quiet until The Wall Street Journal broke the news on it this past April. From the looks of things, investigators must have come up with some pretty solid dirt as Canadian law enforcement officials arrested one of Huawei's highest ranking officers, earlier this week:

From The Globe and Mail:

Canada has arrested the chief financial officer of China’s Huawei Technologies who is facing extradition to the United States on suspicion she violated U.S. trade sanctions against Iran.

Wanzhou Meng, who is also the deputy chair of Huawei’s board and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Vancouver at the request of U.S. authorities.

“Wanzhou Meng was arrested in Vancouver on December 1. She is sought for extradition by the United States, and a bail hearing has been set for Friday,” Justice department Ian McLeod said in a statement to The Globe and Mail. “As there is a publication ban in effect, we cannot provide any further detail at this time. The ban was sought by Ms. Meng.

Ms. Meng, a rising star at Shenzhen-based Huawei, now the world’s second-largest maker of telecommunications equipment. Reuters reported in 2013 that Ms.

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Quora says data breach affects 100 million users

The question-and-answer sharing website Quora says about 100 million users were affected by a hack blamed on a “malicious third party.” Read the rest

The Death of Tumblr

Tumblr will ban 'female-presenting nipples' and other content beginning December 17, 2018. Photographer and writer Nate 'Igor' Smith is a longtime Tumblr user whose work straddles the boundaries of art, editorial, and adult. Here, Nate explains why Tumblr's decision to censor is devastating for the Tumblr's longtime users, and the rest of us. — XJ

THERE WAS A TIME when Tumblr was my favorite place to post photos. It was a social network that you could customize in so many ways that you could create a blog or a mood board or hide a secret project behind a password protected gate. It was used by so many people in so many different ways. You could posts .gifs on Tumblr before they worked on Twitter and you could post uncompressed images that looked good on desktop or smartphone without having to know any code.

I used it as a great place to post images that I could then send to Twitter to get around Twitter’s terrible compression and constantly flowing feed. I used it as a place to organize my images because of Tumblr’s tagging system. I could search for a person or subject or send someone a link to just a specific tag so they could see all my favorite photos of juggalos for example. It was a fantastic tool and my most popular social network until Instagram really exploded. Read the rest

Trump OKs seismic tests in Atlantic that can harm thousands of dolphins & whales

Trump's about to make a bunch of whales, turtles, and dolphins go deaf.

The Trump administration is about to take a preliminary step toward oil and natural gas drilling off the Atlantic shore, by approving requests from energy companies to conduct “deafening seismic tests that could harm tens of thousands of dolphins, whales and other marine animals,” reports the Los Angeles Times. Read the rest

Marriott-Starwood data breach: 500 million guests may be affected, hackers active since 2014

How bad is the Marriott/Starwood breach disclosed today? "Unauthorized access to the Starwood network since 2014 … For approximately 327M of these guests, the info includes some combination of name, mailing address, phone number, email address, passport number.”

Marriott says information from as many as 500 million people has been compromised, and credit card numbers and expiration dates of some guests may have been taken. Read the rest

World War II Enigma cipher machine up for auction

A rare, fully-operational Enigma cipher machine from World War II will go up for auction at Sothebys tomorrow as part of an amazing History of Science & Technology auction (also including Richard Feynman's Nobel Prize). The Enigma is expected to go for around $200,000.

From a 1999 article I wrote for Wired:

German soldiers issued an Enigma were to make no mistake about their orders if captured: Shoot it or throw it overboard. Based on electronic typewriters invented in the 1920s, the infamous Enigma encryption machines of World War II were controlled by wheels set with the code du jour. Each letter typed would illuminate the appropriate character to send in the coded message.

In 1940, building on work by Polish code breakers, Alan Turing and his colleagues at the famed UK cryptography center Bletchley Park devised the Bombe, a mechanical computer that deciphered Enigma-encoded messages. Even as the Nazis beefed up the Enigma architecture by adding more wheels, the codes could be cracked at the Naval Security Station in Washington, DC - giving the Allies the upper hand in the Battle of the Atlantic. The fact that the Allies had cracked the Enigma code was not officially confirmed until the 1970s.

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Today is the day to push Congress to act on Net Neutrality

We're just a few Congressional signatures short of triggering the Congressional Review Act on Net Neutrality (we've already got the Senate); and that will push Trump to have to publicly reject Net Neutrality (which 87% of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, support) or override the FCC and restore Net Neutrality to America. Read the rest

Dell reset all Dell.com customer passwords 5 days after cyberattack, didn't bother telling customers at the time

Dell released a statement on Wednesday that says the computer giant reset passwords for all accounts on the Dell.com online electronics store on Nov. 14.

That was a full 5 days after they discovered and reportedly thwarted hackers who were trying to steal customer data. Read the rest

Alexa-enabled Big Mouth Billy Bass. Pre-order it for $40.

You can preorder an Alexa-enabled Big Mouth Billy Bass for $40. Read the rest

Canadian Intelligence warns against buying tech from state-owned companies

According to documents obtained by the Canadian Press, the Canadian government has been warning against investing in technology served up by state-owned companies as it's highly likely that the hardware could be used as a conduit for corporate espionage.

From The Globe & Mail:

The RCMP organized two workshops last March — one in Calgary, the other in Toronto — to raise awareness about threats to critical systems, including espionage and foreign interference, cyberattacks, terrorism and sabotage, newly disclosed documents show.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service materials prepared for the workshops advise that “non-likeminded countries,” state-owned enterprises and affiliated companies are engaged in a global pursuit of technology and know-how driven by economic and military ambitions.

The papers surrounding the RCMP and CSIS' warnings were heavily redacted: there's no mention of any specific countries that want to take a peek at what Canuck corporations have to offer. However, we've still got a good idea about some of what they were talking about. According to The Canadian Press, the document had a chunk of text in it pulled from a US government report that China and other competing countries have been swiping "hundreds of billions of dollars" worth of intellectual property every year. Additionally, back in 2016, CSIS warned Canadians that maybe allowing Huawei Technologies to have any part in the building of Canada's 5G telecommunications network might be a really bad idea. According to a number of intelligence sources, Huawei's ties to the Chinese government run deep.

It's fun to be reminded that billion dollar concerns like tech and oil companies have just as much to worry about with phishing, sloppy security practices and other digital hazards as everyone else. Read the rest

Direct from the Uncanny Valley: Affetto, the freaky child android head

This is the new version of Affetto, the robot child head that's a testbed for synthetic facial expressions. According to the Osaka University researchers who birthed Affeto, their goal is to "offer a path for androids to express greater ranges of emotion, and ultimately have deeper interaction with humans." From Osaka University:

The researchers investigated 116 different facial points on Affetto to measure its three-dimensional movement. Facial points were underpinned by so-called deformation units. Each unit comprises a set of mechanisms that create a distinctive facial contortion, such as lowering or raising of part of a lip or eyelid. Measurements from these were then subjected to a mathematical model to quantify their surface motion patterns.

While the researchers encountered challenges in balancing the applied force and in adjusting the synthetic skin, they were able to employ their system to adjust the deformation units for precise control of Affetto’s facial surface motions.

“Android robot faces have persisted in being a black box problem: they have been implemented but have only been judged in vague and general terms,” study first author Hisashi Ishihara says. “Our precise findings will let us effectively control android facial movements to introduce more nuanced expressions, such as smiling and frowning.”

Read the rest

One day, a computer will fit on a desk

Arthur C. Clarke forecasts the future in 1974. We've come a long way. Kinda.

(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

200+ Googlers plan company-wide walkout Thu. Nov 1 over alleged sexual harasser protection

More than 200 engineers at Google are said to be preparing a 'women's walk', in which people walk out of work, after claims that the company protected sexual harasser executives, and offered them generous payouts. Read the rest

EU Parliament demands Facebook audit after breach hits 87 million users

MEPs in European Parliament want Facebook to submit to a full audit by European Union bodies to determine whether the U.S. based social media company adequately protects users’ personal data. The demand made in the form of an EU resolution adopted Thursday, October 25, 2018, follows the company's recent breach scandal, in which data belonging to 87 million Facebook users around the world were improperly obtained and misused. Read the rest

NEW: Ecuador is done with Julian Assange, won't help Wikileaks founder hide from British government

Ecuador plans to stop intervening with the British government on behalf of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, reports Reuters today. Read the rest

Google to charge hardware makers up to $40 per device for Android mobile apps

Google [Alphabet Inc.] will soon charge hardware companies up to $40 per device to use Google apps, under a new licensing plan that will replace one struck down by the EU earlier this year as anti-competitive, reports Reuters. Read the rest

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